Walking in Regent’s Park this morning – yes March 2nd – we saw the first ducklings of the year – 6 beautiful little coloured chicks from the Egyptian Geese.
The mother was very anxious, quacking constantly, and Daddy stayed close too, not surprising really when the twitchers were saying that 5 juvenile peregrine falcons were flying low over the lake this very morning! Though usually peregrins prefer pigeons they may have been interested in a small snacket…
The geese also shouted at the moorhens and coots and anyone who got too close to their precious little ones. But curious pigeons were shooed off by one little chick! An aggressive little male no doubt..
This is really very early indeed to see chicks out and about..!
The goose is related to the shelduck and is very small and compact for a goose. Although originally brought in as ornamental birds they are now feral breeding quite successfully around and about – with several pairs on the Thames too. The RSPB estimate some 1100 pairs breed in the UK every year.
Each pair lays between 5 and 12 eggs which hatch after 28-30 days, so this pair must have started late January which is at the extreme beginning of the breeding season for them – they often breed right into May. The female incubates while the male guards. The chicks take 2 years to become sexually mature.
They eat a variety of plant matter including grasses, seeds, shoots, leaves, grain and crops. They also takes food items from shallow water, including algae and aquatic plants, and sometimes animal matter such as worms. So ideally suited for living in a park. They didn’t mind humans as after all they feed them interesting bread stuff.
The herons had started sitting on their nests too and one inhabited nest looked as though it would soon fall out of the tree it was so large and at such an angle – but no doubt the twigs were firmly woven in.
Lovely to see all this wildlife in the middle of the city surrounded by wonderful flowers too – amazing how many species are in bloom all at the same time. Even anemone de caen which should flower in April/May were out in full bloom amongst the snowdrops, daffodils, crocii and other spring bulbs plus primroses, dwarf iris and various bushes including verbena bodnantense and one or two flowers on a ceanothus bush too. Not to mention all the London not so wild life called tourists!
A lovely if briskly chill morning to be out and about.
PS. My son lives in surburban Surrey and yesterday morning a peregrine falcon came down into his garden and caught a pigeon! Wow… a long way from any cliffs or high buildings for nesting.